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Published: Saturday, 4/16/2005

Perrysburg Township deputy fire chief had a big heart

Olen T. "Oley" Friess, 69, a deputy chief and a founder of the Perrysburg Township Fire Department, died Tuesday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, from complications of a brain tumor.

Chief Friess continued to make fire runs until he became ill two months ago.

"He was just the type of guy who liked to serve his community, and he liked the tradition and the camaraderie of the fire department," Deputy Chief Tom Brice said. "He was a man of men. He was somebody everybody respected and someone you could confide in. He tried to better everyone on the department."

Chief Friess was one of 34 men who organized the department in 1961. He became president of the department's social body in 1973. Promotions to captain in 1978 and to second assistant chief in 1979 preceded his appointment as deputy chief, Chief Brice said.

Chief Friess operated the yard markers for Perrysburg High School football games for 30 years, through the fall, 2004, season.

He volunteered for Operation Bread Basket, the annual drive to assist township families in need. He helped collect aluminum cans as a fund-raiser for burned children.

"He liked being involved in everything he could possibly be involved in, especially for kids," said Diane Friess, his daughter-in-law of 27 years.

He grew up in Perrysburg, the son of Arthur and Edith Friess. He was a 1955 graduate of Perrysburg High School. He was 17 when he was hired at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford facility on East Broadway in Toledo. He retired at 47.

He also was a groundskeeper at Belmont Country Club for 30 years, retiring in 1998.

He liked to fish, and he belonged to the dart ball league at his church, Grace United Methodist. As his sons were growing up, he coached Little League.

He was a member of the Rossford Eagles.

"He was a pretty amazing man," his daughter-in-law said. "Point blank, he was the orneriest man you'd ever meet, but he had the biggest heart of any person I've ever met.

"You always had a good first impression of him," she said. "He was a great fun person."

Surviving are his wife, Mabel Ann, whom he married July 23, 1955; sons, Ronald, Fred, Oley, Jr., and Tom Friess; daughter, Cindy Tidwell; brother, Jay Friess; sister, Janice King; 13 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at

10:30 a.m. today in Grace United Methodist Church, Perrysburg. Arrangements are by the Sujkowski Funeral Home of Rossford.

The family suggests tributes to the Perrysburg Township Fire Department or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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